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Appendix A
How to Prepare an Occupational Health and Safety Policy

  • Revised: March 20, 2015
  • Content last reviewed: March 2015
  • Also available in Spanish [PDF, 729 Kb / 82 pages ]

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

A policy statement by the employer is an effective way to communicate the organization's commitment to worker health and safety. Senior management attitudes, relationships between employers and workers, community interests and technology all combine to play a part in determining how health and safety are viewed and addressed in the workplace.

Workplaces with exceptional health and safety records have established a clear line of responsibility for correcting health and safety concerns. This action enhances working relationships between employers and workers.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, an employer must prepare and review at least annually a written occupational health and safety policy, and must develop and maintain a program to implement that policy [clause 25(2)(j)].

A clear, concise policy statement should reflect management's commitment, support and attitude to the health and safety program for the protection of workers. This statement should be signed by the employer and the highest level of management at the workplace, thus indicating employer and senior management commitment.

An example of a health and safety policy follows:

Health and Safety Policy

The employer and senior management of ________________are vitally interested in the health and safety of its workers. Protection of workers from injury or occupational disease is a major continuing objective.

________________will make every effort to provide a safe, healthy work environment. All employers, supervisors and workers must be dedicated to the continuing objective of reducing risk of injury.

________________ as employer, is ultimately responsible for worker health and safety. As president (or owner/operator, chairperson, chief executive officer, etc.) of ________________, I give you my personal commitment that I will comply with my duties under the Act, such as taking every reasonable precaution for the protection of workers in the workplace.

Supervisors will be held accountable for the health and safety of workers under their supervision. Supervisors are subject to various duties in the workplace, including the duty to ensure that machinery and equipment are safe and that workers work in compliance with established safe work practices and procedures.

Every worker must protect his or her own health and safety by working in compliance with the law and with safe work practices and procedures established by the employer. Workers will receive information, training and competent supervision in their specific work tasks to protect their health and safety.

It is in the best interest of all parties to consider health and safety in every activity. Commitment to health and safety must form an integral part of this organization, from the president to the workers.

Signed: ________________________

Note: A workplace violence policy and a workplace harassment policy are required of all workplaces covered by Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act. Sample policies are available in the Ministry of Labour’s Workplace Violence and Harassment: Understanding the Law, available from ServiceOntario publications and on the Ministry of Labour internet website.

In addition to preparing a health and safety policy like the one above, the employer must also have a program in place to implement that policy. This program will vary, depending upon the hazards encountered in a particular workplace. Program elements may include all or some of the following:

  1. Worker training (e.g., new workers, WHMIS, new job procedures)
  2. Workplace inspections and hazard analysis
  3. Analysis of the accidents and illnesses occurring at the workplace
  4. A health and safety budget
  5. A formal means of communication to address promptly the concerns of workers
  6. Confined space entry procedure
  7. Lock out procedure
  8. Machine guarding
  9. Material handling practices and procedures
  10. Maintenance and repairs
  11. Housekeeping
  12. Protective equipment
  13. Emergency procedures
  14. First aid and rescue procedures
  15. Electrical safety
  16. Fire prevention
  17. Engineering controls (e.g., ventilation)

Please note that this is not a comprehensive list of program elements.

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Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.